Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm getting transferred!... it's kind of technical...

Yes, after only one transfer in Havre, with still another transfer of training left, I am getting transferred.
I am going to.......... Billings!!! Exciting, yeah? 
Well, that's not the exciting part, actually. The exciting part is.... (drum roll please)...
I am going to be working in the office as an iPad specialist!!!!!
Cool, huh?
And ironic.
I've never owned an iPad until now.
But I love Apple.
And technically the iPad isn't mine, but.....yeah.

Here's the story:
We have 3 assistants now, and the new one called me a week ago and talked to me about my computer skills. So of course I mentioned that I could program in C, C++, MatLab, Maple and also run the engineering software FLUENT at NASA, and anything in Office was simple... I have no idea if he knew what I was talking about at all...he claimed he was following what I was saying though..

I thought he was calling so I could help out at the meeting on Tuesday when we received our iPads... I was a little off.

Anyways, I am super excited because the iPads are AMAZING and my technical skills are better than my people skills, so this matches my strengths a little bit.

I'm not sure of what my duties are going to be in the office with the iPads, but I'll let you know once I get to Billings. Transfers are on Wednesday.

So now about the iPads.
Did I mention yet that they are AMAZING?
Because they are AMAZING.
Our Area Book and Planner are combined. In an app. Teaching appointments in the calendar section update the teaching record in the area book section. 
It's technically an online area book that gets saved onto your iPad every time you sync. So Sister Jones syncs, I sync, and then I've got everything she's added. 
So this area book app does our weekly and daily goals, shows us how we are doing at meeting those goals, automatically classifies our investigators as progressing/new/potential based on their teaching record, etc, etc.. It also has a  task list so you can make reminders within the Area Book app to call certain people.. 

Oh and this app has our entire ward directory :) And so when you click on a member and don't know where they live, you can tap on their address and it brings up a map showing a pin where you are and a pin where the person in question is :) I love maps.
One annoyance is yes, we can only sync or use the map stuff when we have WiFi. But all church buildings have wifi and there's internet at our house.
So basically, the area book app is awesome.
The next awesome thing is the Gospel Library app. Most of you probably already know how awesome that app is. Let's just say it is quite a blessing to not have to carry around a full set of scriptures (though I still carry copies of the Book of Mormon) and also to be able to share Mormon Messages (just download them in the morning). And also the fact that we can get Preach My Gospel, the white handbook, all of the hymns (we have LDS Music app as well, it helps us with our singing in the morning since we all know I can't carry a tune very well....)

                                                                                  Sign for the Rocky Boy Pow Wow

Anyways. Both with teaching and organization, the iPads are quite a blessing. And the maps. I love maps. Maps are great. 
So Stake Conference was this weekend in Great Falls-- it was fabulous!! We have an amazing stake president, President Mecham spoke, as well as the temple president and matron from Cardston, and the area 70 authority.

The focus in the adult session, as with stake conferences everywhere (so I hear) was on hastening the work. Elder Payne shared 15 ideas of how to help hasten the work, and encouraged everyone to pick one that they would diligently strive to accomplish. And so that's my challenge to you. Here's the 15 ideas:
(1) Fast and pray for the missionaries. Not to find people but to have strength, to teach with power and the spirit. We do need help, I promise.
(2) Fast to find someone that you can have the missionaries teach. So in other words, fast for a referral.
(3) Ask missionaries to use your home for teaching lessons to their investigators. This would be AWESOME!
(4) Go out once a month with the missionaries. Even if no on is home and no lessons end up being taught the whole day/evening, you and the missionaries you're with will be strengthened and edified. 
(5) Create a profile. Invite friends to view your profile. Give our cards. Say you enjoyed church on your facebook profile.
(6) Invite friends and neighbors to church activities. Invite those having difficult life experiences. Be a caregiver. 
(7) Role play in Relief Society or priesthood inviting others to come to church.
(8) Introduce yourself to those you don't recognize or know. Invite them to sit with you. Be a friend to the friendless. THIS IS HUGE!!! 
(9) Invite an investigator or less active to dinner at your home.
(10) Volunteer to teach new member lessons to recent converts.
(11) Put a Christmas message and your beliefs about church in your Christmas cards
(12) Have an open house
(13) Offer to help others with family history
(14) Tell others of your values and how they keep you happy
(15) Encourage your youth to invite friends and families
Please pick at least one idea, and be diligent in applying it to your life!!
Anyways. Conference was great.

                                                             Part of a decaying ceremonial lodge on Rocky Boy

                                                                        The meat shop in underground Havre

In other news, there is finally snow in Havre! But not even enough to completely cover the ground. They don't really plow here, and my lovely Californian companion is driving in snow for the first time. I told her that if you don't slow down in advance, all stops are Californian stops whether you want them to be or not. (: I'm having fun teasing her. But she's doing great so far.

About Underground Havre- Havre burned down in the early 1900s/late 1800s, so the businesses moved underground. Sounds cool, but really just think of it as a basement that extends under about a couple blocks. The underground used to be far more extensive, but they've filled up most of it for stability reasons. But in the underground there used to be a barber, a bar, an opium den, a bakery, a hiding place for Chinese immigrants, a bank, a mortuary, and ladies of the night. Most of it did not occur in the exact rooms that we were in, but since the original places were filled in, they had displays of everything.
Billings, here we come!!
Sister Griffin

Monday, October 21, 2013

... did I mention I was serving a foreign mission??

 I know that I've already mentioned a decent amount about the reservation and Native American people, so if I repeat anything, I apologize... But I felt like maybe describing more of the culture and the kind of people I've been working with.

Starting with the Rocky Boy reservation... I cannot remember the year/time period when it was first established, but originally there were only 27 (maybe 29) families on the reservation. Thus the family trees are rather intertwined and everyone is related to each other in some way.

The reservation originally forced the Chippewa and Cree tribes together- this was a common ordeal that two tribes that traditionally fought each other were made to coexist on a prescribed chunk of land. 

Honestly though, Havre and the reservation is as much of a melting pot as the nation. We have met people of many tribes, including Chippewa, Cree, Assinaboine, Blackfeet, Navajo, and Eskimo. I know I've met more, but I cannot remember all of the names. No one we have met is a "pure blood" of their tribe.

On the reservation, you are not to point at anything or anyone. Pointing is disrespectful. Dogs and horses are sacred. Counting the number of dogs on a reservation on any one trip can be somewhat of a game. The first time we went, we counted 37 dogs. The dogs breed out of control, and you will often see tiny terriers trotting along the side of the road. 

To share a story about horses, we were visiting a less-active family. The grandfather had mentioned that a grandson was visiting the neighbor's to pick out a dog to bring home. When we were leaving, the grandson was coming home. But he didn't have a dog with him- he had a horse! Apparently the horses roam as freely and owner-less as the dogs and are equally available for adoption. The grandfather was hovering between disapproval and amusement. I personally want to know how the little boy got a rope around the horse to lead it home.

The Native Americans have several traditions- some of which would be included in Bro. Fowles' "Farmboy Does it Again" book if he knew about them.

I believe I've already mentioned- a "pow-wow" exists but is not religious or ceremonial in nature- it is a commercialized dancing competition. The pow-wow season is over, or else Sister Jones and I would find less-actives to take us. 

The ceremony that we've heard mentioned several times is the "Sundance" festival. The build a "lodge" each year for the festival. Think large, wide gazebo with only beams for the roof. The inside has a barrier- the singers are in the inside, the dancers on the outside. The idea is to dance and sing and fast for I believe 3 days. To participate, you must be considered clean. The suffering through fasting is symbolic. Towards the end, babies are presented with a new name that must be remembered so they can present it in the next life and not be lost. Some of the families that we have been working with have shared with us their Indian name.

For now, that is all that I can recall of the culture.

But as for Rocky Boy itself... The homes are all practically identical. Most people on the reservation do not work, and instead choose to live off of food stamps. Many have the attitude that only family matters, and they don't need anything else, and so there isn't a point to working.

Speaking of family, raising children tends to skip generations. Teenage births seem to be the norm as opposed to the exception, which then results in grandparents raising grandchildren. 

Most homes are not well kept and dirty, but not all. There are definitely nicer homes and everyone we have met is very nice. 

Rocky Boy itself is very small is apparently is the only reservation in Montana that doesn't have a city or town. For instance, the Blackfeet reservation east of Glacier National Park is more typically referred to as the Browning reservation because of the city Browning. Rocky Boy has a high school and grade school, maybe one gas station, a few bars/casinos, and one or two convenience stores. 

I've exhausted myself on this subject.

As for our investigators, the whole family made it to church again this Sunday, and we taught them once again on Friday, and so they are still on schedule for baptism...

We are continuing to probe other investigators, trying to help them gain the desire or else get married or keep commitments.

We tried a referral from a ward council member, only to discover that the lady in question no longer lived at the house and also had never been heard of before. But the couple living there, Native American, were willing to hear what we had to say, so we taught them the restoration on Sunday. We're not sure that they understood the significance of our message, but we'll be back next Sunday to share the Plan of Salvation. Visitations and visions are common stories among Native Americans... 

Tomorrow we are teaching a family in which her background is Buddhism and his is atheist. Interesting combination, no?

In other news, we finally got to see the Underground Havre, which started after a fire wiped out all of the business district, so the businesses were just moved into the ground since they didn't have time to haul in wood.

Havre is interesting, it can have fires, droughts, floods, blizzards, wind storms, and all within a couple years.

Anyways, hope everyone's enjoying the snow! We have yet to see a flake here... (knock on wood)

Sister G 

PS. Tomorrow we drive to Helena for our iPads!!! :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Columbus Day!!

So tiny rant- every where cool in Havre that you'd want to visit- museums, buffalo jumps, the only ice cream shop, etc. is closed on Mondays! With the exception of the Havre Underground History tour.
So Sister Jones and I finally plan on checking out the "underground Havre". But guess what?
It was closed. For Columbus Day. Who even celebrates Columbus Day???? Apparently Havre. Nevermind that school and college is still in session. So happy Columbus Day!!
Sighhh maybe one Monday we'll find something fun to do in this town. But don't worry, I love Havre, I just wish they'd realize that Monday is preparation day :)
Since dad asked, this last week we had twenty-two lessons (including active member lessons), two investigators in church and commit to a baptisimal date.
So the two investigators saying they wanted to be baptized got married in April and had a date back in April to be baptized but couldn't make it to church because they don't have a car and live out in the reservation. And they don't have a phone to organize rides either.
We finally met this family this week and saw them on Thursday and Friday. She asked quite a few good questions and it was on Friday that they agreed to baptism at the end of this month.
We prayed and prayed our hearts out for them to be able to come to church, and they came!! First time ever! We organized the ride for them through a member in the ward. The hope though is that their rides to church can be taken over by the ward somehow...
There are 60 church members on the reservation, and all of the them are less-active. Almost all of them don't have cars. Very few active members live out that way. I wish there was a 15 passenger van that could just fall into the hands of the ward so that someone could give rides to everyone on the reservation who desires to go to church.

                                          The whiteboard Elder & Sister Jacobson gave to Sister Jones & Sister Griffin

There are so many barriers to the work, even the work not on the reservation!
Another investigator expressed her desire to be baptized. Her grandma (who raised her) is getting old and sick, and she wants to be able to be with her in the next life. She practically taught Sister Jones & I the plan of salvation. It was beautiful.
The problem though is with her boyfriend of about 15 years and 2 children. He doesn't want to get married. He's a less-active member, and doesn't have the desire to go to church. He seems to be struggling with himself- maybe tied back to when his grandmother died. (She raised him) Coming back to church would help him soo much! But the trick is getting him to see that...

RANDOM TIME! Sister Jones and I have matching winter coats! Sister Jones' mom didn't know what coat to buy, and I had mentioned that I had a father who tended to extensively research everything, including my winter coat.. Sister Jones didn't realize though that her mom would pick the same color as mine. Picture to follow :)
Speaking of snow, the weather in Havre has not included any snow! The whole week it's been in the 50s. I find it humorous that even though we're so far north, Great Falls and Helena have received snow before us.
Here's my thought of the week:
"How can I help (insert name of person) be successful?"
Any leader or any teacher must ask themself this question.
This can apply to almost anything, too.. school, church, social, political, etc..
But it's a very strong question- one that great leaders, amazing professors, and loving parents are good at answering. I know dad is constantly asking this question for his projects at work, his debaters at the high school, and for me and my brothers. If you ever have a question at how to be successful, ask dad. 
There are so many barriers to missionary work, and I want to help those I'm working with be successful. I want the families in the reservation to have a simple way to get to church. I want invesitgators to see why keeping appointments is important. I want them to read the Book of Mormon, and to pray about it. I want to see families united.
So how can I help them be sucessful? That's the question I'm working on right now!
But it's a question that applies to everything :)
If I ever become a math professor at some college tucked away in the mountains, that's the question that I hope I am asking myself every day for every student!
I ALMOST FORGOT!!! OUR MISSION HAS BEEN CHOSEN TO PILOT IPAD MINIS!!! Congrats Dad, you called it!! We're getting trained for them in a week or so, and so I'm assuming they'll arrive then or shortly after... :)
Sister Griffin

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mini Miracles...

So sad to hear about Chuckie! :( I would say worst news ever, but there's definitely worse news out there.

I'm pretty sure I've spent more time in a car or outside of Havre than in Havre this week!

Zone conference was Wednesday in Helena, so we left Tuesday and drove back Thursday. We had Sister Parr (she's a sister training leader, AKA female zone leader) for a few days and had to drive her back to Great Falls on Saturday.

                                                                        Sis. Jones, Sis. Griffin & Sis. Parr

So lots of driving.

But lots of good inspirational messages! Zone conference was *awesome* and General Conference was phenomenal!!!!! Everyone should go read Elder Ballard's talk and come up with your own missionary plan for helping to spread the gospel!!

Which brings me to a random idea: being a missionary is SUCH a blessing because you only have to focus on ONE thing- being a missionary. Everyday I know that everything that I should do is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel" (missionary purpose in PMG).

This gives my prayers more purpose, my scripture study more purpose, my actions more purpose, I strive to always have the Holy Ghost, etc. because all of that is so necessary in inviting others to come unto Christ!

I love the idea of having a purpose- because in ANYTHING we do, a purpose helps us stay focused and achieve our fullest potential.

So each of you- think about your personal purpose. Start with the universal purpose of obtaining eternal life. And then go from there. Find purpose in everything you do :) 

                                                                 Sis. Jones, Zone Leaders & Sis. Griffin

Story time! Here's a mini miracle:
We were told one of our most progressing investigators was Jamie. Jamie was living in town but then moved to the reservation righhhhht before Sister Jones and I showed up.

Problem: it's next to impossible to find anyone on the reservation, and we had no indication as to where Jamie had moved to. Reservations don't have addresses, or records...fabulous. So basically we're not even sure that we'll ever be able to find Jamie.

Thursday we went on to Rocky Boy for the first time. (Don't worry, we were with the Jacobsens). First house we go to is some inactive person the Jacobsens want to contact. No answer. Great. We climb in the car to leave.

Then some woman runs out of the house across the street, flagging us down. Kind of weird. But guess who it was? Jamie. She had decided to look outside the window right as we were leaving. And she wanted a Book of Mormon, saying she had left hers in Havre and wanted to start reading it. Of course we had a copy to give her.

We're going back to teach her this Thursday. Heavenly Father knows His children, and is a God of miracles. He loves us each individually and infinitely.

Back to general conference, since my mom asked. We spent Saturday at our ward mission leader's home. (His wife is not a member, so we were able to justify it). They have the COOLEST house ever!! Buffalo head, deer heads, coyote pelts, old stoves, milk cans, vaulted wood ceiling, wood walls, saddles, Indian-style couches, cowboy hats, etc.. Definition of my ideal house.

And they have the coolest dog ever- gigantic Alaskan malamute! (Not sure if I spelled the breed right). Yeah, it's taller than I am when it stands on its hind legs, NBD. Oh, and the other dog is missing one of its front legs.

Sunday morning we were at the church, Sunday afternoon we were at a recent convert's house.

Can I just say that I really appreciated the emphasis on FAMILY!!!! It seems that every family here in Havre is broken to some degree. It is so sad that co-habitation before marriage is such commonplace and that so many view children out of wedlock as a worthy endeavor. This is not what Heavenly Father has planned for His precious spirit children, and every child deserves to be raised by both a mother and father who are committed to each other and show their commitment through marriage.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox.

Back to Rocky Boy Reservation- it's in the Bear Paw Mountains, and it's very beautiful, especially with the leaves changing colors. Though I must admit- the Bear Paws look like mountains in texture and character, but they are EXTREMELY short. Like half the height of normal mountains.

But, having gone to the reservation, I can now say that I've served a foreign mission! These people have such a strong 
culture, and so we are trying to learn as much as we can so we can understand where they're coming from and to obey all of the social rules.

For instance, if a Native American offers something to you, you take it!!! Including food. Lots and lots of food. Also, never point!! Pointing is rude. 

And a Pow-Wow is not a ceremony or this crazy cultural thing- it's a dancing competition that you can win money at. Sisters Jones, Parr, and I almost went to one this weekend, but then decided we would be going for the wrong reasons. We're trying to be exactly obedient. 

Hope all is well!! :)
Sorry if I was scatter-brained...

Sister Griffin